New Orleans Saints’ Nesbit gives his side

New Orleans Saints’ Nesbit gives his side

Posted by By Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune September 23, 2008 10:32PM

Saints offensive lineman Jamar Nesbit says he didn’t take steroids, only an over-the-counter body cleanser.

The Saints got their daily dose of bad news Tuesday when the NFL announced that starting left guard Jamar Nesbit will be suspended without pay for the next four games for violating the league’s policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.

Nesbit, who will not be allowed to participate in any team activities until Oct. 20, insisted he never intentionally took any substances banned by the NFL. He said that his failed drug test stemmed from an over-the-counter product he took this summer, which was advertised as an all-natural body-cleansing health product.

Nesbit said he checked all of the ingredients on the bottle against the NFL’s list of approved substances and also called the company. But he said there was an unidentified ingredient in the product that caused him to fail a drug test this summer.

“The NFL’s policy is that I’m responsible for whatever I put in my body, ” said Nesbit, a 10-year veteran who has not missed a game in his five seasons with the Saints. “And to a certain extent, I understand the logic behind it. And I support the league in trying to keep the integrity of the sport clean. At the same time, I don’t think this rule was meant to affect the Jamar Nesbits of the world — or, I should say, the people that are trying to do the right thing.

“Hopefully people that know me or know of me know that I wouldn’t try to cheat the game or cheat myself.”

The NFL has a zero-tolerance policy for even a first offense, which results in an automatic four-game suspension.

Nesbit waived his right to appeal once the lengthy testing process was completed because he could not argue with the results of two urine samples and a toxicology report.

But his agent, Jonathan Feinsod, said Nesbit plans to pursue “all legal avenues” with the company that produced the alleged tainted product.

For legal reasons, Feinsod and Nesbit declined to identify the product. But Nesbit said it is accessible in a chain store and is not designed specifically for athletes.

When asked if the product actually worked as intended, Nesbit said, “Whether it worked or not, it’s not worth what I’m going through.”

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said players have the right to appeal their cases, but he reiterated what Nesbit said — all players are responsible for what they put in their bodies. He also pointed out that the NFL has a supplement certification program, through which players can attain approved supplements.

Saints offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb said the players with whom he has spoken all support Nesbit and his family and said it is a shame that Nesbit’s name will be tarnished by what he believes is an honest mistake.

Stinchcomb said it’s easy to be skeptical when so many NFL players claim their innocence in similar situations, but he’s not skeptical in this case because, “I know Nes.”

“You know, I’ve been with Nes for five years, ” Stinchcomb said. “He’s a good friend of mine, a man of character. His whole story in the NFL is really positive, and it just gets tarnished by a mistake.

“You don’t make a 10-year career out of cutting corners and cheating the system. He puts in the work. Your heart just goes out to him and his family.”

The Saints offered a brief comment through a statement released by General Manager Mickey Loomis, which said: “We are disappointed in the suspension of Jamar. We will support Jamar through this process and look forward to having him rejoin the team soon.”

The last Saints player to be suspended under the league’s steroid policy was defensive tackle Hollis Thomas, who missed the final four regular-season games in 2006. Thomas appealed the suspension, claiming his failed test came from an asthma medication, but his appeal was denied.

Before that, linebacker Sedrick Hodge served a four-game suspension at the start of the 2004 season.

Nesbit’s absence will put another burden on the Saints’ offense, which has been decimated by injuries this season.

Receiver Marques Colston (thumb) and tight end Jeremy Shockey (sports hernia) will be out of the lineup when the Saints host San Francisco on Sunday. They might also be without left tackle Jammal Brown (hip), receiver David Patten (groin) and tight end Mark Campbell (hamstring), depending on how quickly those players recover.

Nesbit will likely be replaced in the starting lineup by rookie guard Carl Nicks, a fifth-round pick out of Nebraska. Nicks (6 feet 5, 343 pounds) turned heads during training camp and the preseason with an impressive combination of power and athleticism.

Further complicating things for the Saints’ offensive line is that Nesbit has been the team’s backup center in every game this season. Veteran Matt Lehr could fill that role, but the Saints have released him before every game, and he was not back on their roster as of Tuesday evening.

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